It increasingly seems that few of us are being spared from wearing the face of Winter 2022. Bouts of COVID and/or the flu and/or even the common cold mean that all too many of us can identify with this ghastly depiction of streaming, blood-shot eyes, a scratchy throat and croaky voice, fevers, headaches and the inevitable ‘fuzzy brain’. Very sadly, for some the symptoms and consequences of becoming ill can become far worse.

As reports are received of one in three Queensland aged care facilities now battling the third wave of COVID outbreaks on top of the flu, it would be a mistake to think that other fields of human service delivery – especially those providing congregate care – will be spared. Outside of the aged care system, the number of people hospitalised for COVID or the flu in Queensland hit 930 last weekend – 876 due to COVID and 54 for the flu. On 18th July, it was reported that, in total, Queensland had recorded more than 6,600 new cases of COVID overnight.

While the introduction of improved antiviral medications has greatly assisted the treatment of those who succumb to infection, vaccination remains the major strategy for dealing with both COVID and the flu. While vaccination does not necessarily prevent all from contracting viruses, it has a proven track record in significantly reducing the seriousness of the illness and in preventing the need for hospitalisation.

Member organisations are urged to remain vigilant in encouraging the practice of social distancing and the use of masks especially within closed spaces where social distancing may be difficult to achieve. Revitalised efforts to incentivise staff to receive their flu vaccinations and COVID boosters are also encouraged. These efforts should also be extended to children and young people noting the previously reported concerns held by PeakCare that their vaccination rate is much lower than that of the general population.

Share advice about initiatives your organisation is using to contain the spread of COVID and the flu. What contingencies do you have ready to activate in the event of staff shortages? What are you proactively doing to promote the health and wellbeing of your staff, the children and young people in your care, and the broader community? How are you incentivising staff to receive their flu vaccination and COVID boosters? Share you concerns as well as the strategies that appear to be working well. Your advice can be entered below, anonymously if you prefer.